(CNN) Do you sleep badly because of stress at work? This may be due to a lack of support from colleagues and superiors, according to a new study.
However, receiving better psychological and social support at work makes it easier for you to disconnect from the workday, giving you valuable downtime to relax and improve your sleep, according to the study.
“This study highlights the important role that work environment and stress have beyond the workplace setting on overall well-being,” said Dr. Phyllis Zee, chief of sleep medicine at Northwestern. University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Zee did not participate in the study.
“Workplace wellness initiatives can improve sleep, but on a personal level, what we can optimize is the quality of our sleep, which in turn can help manage stress and, ultimately increasing resilience to the daily challenges we face,” Zee said. .
The study, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open, analyzed data from nearly 115,000 participants in the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Health Survey, Denmark Work Environment and Health Study and the Finnish Public Sector Study, which were tracked for up to six years. years.
The researchers looked at top-down resources – leadership qualities, such as appreciation and listening skills, and procedural justice, which is the perception of fairness in the workplace – and horizontal resources, such as support from colleagues and a culture of collaboration. Collaboration has been defined as working closely with others to achieve the best results available or to develop or apply new ideas.
Sleep problems included initiating or maintaining sleep, poor quality sleep, and daytime fatigue two to four times a week for one month to three months. Confounding factors, such as age and pre-existing physical or mental disorders, were excluded.
Over a two-year period, more than half of participants (53%) reported changes in their workplace. If the changes were positive in either of the two categories—leadership and fairness or co-worker support and collaboration—the odds of persistent sleep problems decreased. The biggest drop occurred when a person saw improvements in all four areas in the workplace.
However, if changes at work were negative, sleep problems increased – in fact 1 in 4 people in the study with a worse work environment developed problems getting enough rest.
“Our results warrant future intervention studies to examine the extent to which improving psychosocial resources in the workplace might facilitate remission or recovery from sleep disorders and prevent the development, deterioration, or prolongation of sleep disorders. among employees,” wrote corresponding author Tianwei Xu, a postdoctoral student. in epidemiology at the University of Stockholm in Sweden.
According to the study, negative changes in the leadership and fairness sector were associated with the greatest long-term impact on sleep, more so than negative changes in co-worker relationships or collaboration.
“This finding is plausible, given the increased power of leaders to affect a positive work environment,” Xu and coauthors wrote.
How to solve the problem
Once the bed and bedroom are associated with poor sleep, anxiety can increase just by entering the room where sleep is elusive, experts say. Poor sleep habits, such as eating, working, watching TV, and worrying in bed can reinforce this negative association.
Stimulus control therapy can help overcome the link between wakefulness and the bedroom by training the mind to see the bed and bedroom as a place for good sleep, while eliminating activity cues that interfere with sleep. falling asleep.
Can’t fall asleep? One of the first things to do: Get up if you haven’t fallen asleep within 15 or 20 minutes, experts say. Keep the lights dim and stay away from the blue light emitted by electronic devices – watching TV or using a smartphone or computer will only send a signal to the brain that it’s time to wake up. Do something crazy, like folding socks, until you feel drowsy. Only then can you go back to bed.
Mind racing with work worries? Whatever you do, don’t worry in bed, said sleep specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.
“Schedule ‘worry time’ – a period of time outside of the bedroom, outside of sleep, to worry about the things that naturally creep into your mind at night,” said Dasgupta, who did not participated in the study.
Sleep researcher Dr. Vsevolod Polotsky, vice chair of research in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at George Washington University, offered this advice to CNN in a previous interview: “Write a list of things you need to do tomorrow. You can even email yourself.”
Deep breathing is a scientifically proven way to calm the body and mind. By changing the rate of your breathing, you slow your heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and stimulate your body’s parasympathetic “rest and digest” system. One of the most popular deep breathing techniques, the 4-7-8 technique, can easily be done before turning off the light. Try the relaxation exercise again if you wake up in the middle of the night.
Another proven technique is progressive muscle relaxation, experts say. Strongly contract the muscles in different areas of the body for 10 seconds while inhaling. Strive to squeeze each muscle hard, but not so tightly that it cramps or hurts. Then, when you exhale, relax the muscle suddenly and all at once. The University of Michigan Health recommends that you do the exercises in a systematic order from head to toe body.